Though Illinois College may have been the second college founded in the state at its inception in 1829 (McKendree University was begun a year earlier), it soon distinguished itself by being the first to grant a degree in the state. With a vivid history since its inception by Yale students looking to help create a “seminary of learning” further west, the campus has experienced everything from being an abolitionist headquarters (it was believed to be part of the underground railroad and its first president, Edward Beecher, was brother to Uncle Tom’s Cabin’s author) to visits from Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln in its 180+ years.
Currently offering around 35 majors of study, Illinois College has been dispensing baccalaureate degrees from its Jacksonville campus since it gave out the first two in the state. Popular majors include Education and Business here. Though they currently have no distance learning options outside of hybrid/online courses, they are hard at work to make the campus wireless and offer Connect2 True Blue, “campus web-based software that assists students, faculty, and staff” in the day to day needs of Illinois College students. The school is also one of only 11 members of the Phi Beta Kappa honors society in the entire state.
Using a rather large endowment to keep tuition costs low, Illinois College offers academic excellence at a bargain, with the added bonus of an 11:1 student faculty ratio that puts an emphasis on personal, face to face learning. Enrollment is currently around 1000 BS and BA seekers, all of whom are subjected to the same liberal arts core education meant to imbue students with the “ability to identify and solve problems”, a skill “prized by employers everywhere”. Their general education requirements include basic training in essential areas (oral/written communication, natural sciences, humanities, etc), but also harkens to their religious roots (the college has historical associations with both the Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ that exist to this day), utilizing its Judeo-Christian values to insist on courses discussing religious issues, as well as global diversity and service, be included in their general ed.
Academics have always been the focus at IC, with programs designed to constantly adapt to new learning styles and keep faculty highly trained. Their Project on Information Literacy in Teaching works with faculty over the summer to develop new classes, or overhaul existing ones, ensuring that old information and tired methods aren’t continued at the expense of the student’s education. Cultural programs and study abroad opportunities exist here, whether it be a semester off to study at another approved institution (regardless of where) or to intern for college credit (sharing the state with Chicago seems to have some opportunity for such things). Students can participate in “Break Away” programs, faculty led group trips during off session times for credit, or their unique and recognized Intercultural Exchange Program with Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan, an exchange that sends 25 students to IC every spring from Kyoto and does the equivalent for IC students in summer session for seven weeks of cross-cultural education.
Whether through research programs, academic advancement, or learning in other countries, Illinois College provides students with the core of learning, cultural understanding, and problem solving that is essential for anyone to succeed in the working world.